Then I picked up the next card, and there was that question. 'What is your earliest memory?' Wow - that's a bummer! I shut my eyes as the images started to flood back. I could hear my own breathing - I felt like I was drowning. I started gasping for air. From far away I could hear you saying 'What is it Em, are you okay?' I tried nodding, but I was there in that hell which is my past. Somehow I tore myself back into the present just enough to get out of Jackie's house. I got as far as that alleyway running down the side. I leant on her wall, just trying to get my breath and trying to push away the feeling and my muffled screams.
You came and stood beside me. I moved away, I needed my space. I wasn't controlling it, though. Now those gasping breaths were joined by by shudders and cries. If anyone saw us, there in the half-dark, they would think you were mugging me. You were the only friend who had seen me like this before - you seemed to instinctively know what to do. Maybe that's because you had these awful panics yourself after the accident.
"Listen to me, Em, you are safe. You are here at Jackie's, with me, and no-one is going to hurt you. See if you can breathe a bit slower."